Woodblocks


With the rapid growth of the colony and the accompanying expansion of the postal system, new denominations of stamps were required. Samuel Calvert was contracted to produce the new stamps.

The Woodblocks were so named, because Calvert engraved the printing plates for these stamps on blocks of boxwood, which must have been an arduous task.

The Registered and Too Late stamps which form a part of this group were the first stamps issued in the world that were dedicated to these purposes, and were among the first bi-colored issues in the world. This is rather amazing considering the fact that they were entirely designed, and manufactured in the remote colony.

The One Shilling Octagon is not strictly part of the Woodblock issue, but is included here for simplicity.


Secret Anti-Forgery Letters
Even as far back as the 1850's, officials used clever printing methods to thwart forgers. Buried in the background of this stamp are secret letters that are barely visible to the naked eye. By strategically thinning the backgound lines in the engraving, the letters GP are formed to the left of the neck and the letter O to the right of the neck, (General Post Office). The letters are so subtle that they cannot be read on some examples.

Red Orange - imperforate, no wmk

Calvert engraved 2 plates of 25 positions on boxwood for this stamp to make up the printing plate of 50. On one pane, there is an apparent apostrophe after the A of VICTORIA, which is absent on the other pane. It was issued in September 1854, imperforate on unwatermarked wove paper.

Orange - imperforate, no wmk

The next shade seen is orange, also imperforate on unwatermarked paper.

Orange Yellow - imperforate, no wmk

The later printings are all found in an orange yellow shade on the same paper.

Dull Orange - rouletted, no wmk

The first official attempts to perforate stamps occurred in the Fall of 1857 when a rouletting machine was provided to the clerks at the GPO. These gauged about 7-9 and are characterized by wide teeth between each cut. Most are found with rouletting on 2 sides only - vertically or horizontally - less often they are found with 4 sides rouletted.

Orange Yellow - rouletted, no wmk

The GPO roulettes are also found in the orange yellow shade. Mint copies are rare, and should be carefully verified to insure they are genuine.

Orange Yellow - Calvert Roulette, no wmk

The next official effort to roulette stamps was contracted to Calvert. These are rouletted 7.5 to 9 on all four sides (unlike the GPO roulettes that are typically on 2 sides only). Once again, unused copies are very rare.

Orange Yellow - Serpentine Roulettes, no wmk
Calvert experimented with different types of roulettes including these serpentine types measuring 10 to 10.5 . Only 28,000 copies were perforated this way.

About 5 unused copies are known.

Orange Yellow - serrated, no wmk

Another experiment was the serrated perforation gauging about 18-9. It is estimated that 35,000 copies were issued.

Unused copies are rare.

Orange Yellow - rouletted & serrated, no wmk
TYPE I

An estimated 7000 stamps were issued with serpentine perforations along the top or bottom, and serrated perforations on the other sides. Presumably, Calvert used the Serpentine cutter to separate the sheets into an upper and lower pane, then completed the perforation with the serrated cutter.

Only a few unused copies are recorded.

Orange Yellow - rouletted & serrated, no wmk
TYPE II

Shown is the counterpart to the stamp illustrated above. In this example the serpentine cut is along the top. In the example above the serpentine cut is along the bottom.

Orange Yellow - serrated & serpentine, no wmk
Undocumented Variety

The unique example, with serpentine perforations vertically and serrated perforations along the top and bottom. A RPSV certificate accompanies this stamp stating it is genuine.

Black - perforated 12, wmk SIX PENCE

When the six pence Orange Beaded Oval was withdrawn, the Woodblock design was re-introduced in June 1861, but this time in black. It is a very scarce stamp unused, and well centered copies are very hard to find.


Blue (shades) - imperforate, no wmk

The first One Shilling stamp to be issued in the colony appeared in July 1854 in a blue shade, to pay the new ship rate for letters to the U.K. It is imperforate on unwatermarked wove paper. The Blue shades range from light to deep. Four margin copies are nearly impossible to locate due to the closeness of the images on the sheet.

Greenish Blue - imperforate, no wmk

This stamp was also printed in a greenish blue seen here.

Indigo Blue - imperforate, no wmk

A distinct indigo blue is found, but is quite rare in the imperforate issues.

Care must be taken when identifying this shade, as it is often confused with deeper blue examples - the indigo is distinctive.

Blue (light shade) - rouletted 7-9, no wmk

The clerks at the GPO rouletted some examples during the later months of 1857. These are rouletted 6.5 to 9 and may be found with rouletting on 2 or 4 sides. They are very scarce. Kellow estimates that 15,000 to 20,000 may have been rouletted, but they seem scarcer than that number might suggest.

Blue (deeper shade) - rouletted 7-9, no wmk

The rouletted stamp is also found in the deeper blue shades, but this is the only example I have located to date.

Greenish Blue - rouletted 7-9, no wmk

The greenish blue is also found rouletted. They are very scarce.

Blue - perforated 12, no wmk

In early 1859, Robinson was contracted to perforate all existing stamps on a new line perforation machine measuring 12 or less. Nearly 2,000,000 of the One Shilling stamps were perforated, which provided inventory until 1865, when it was replaced by the One Shilling Laureate.

Greenish Blue - perforated 12, no wmk

This stamp also is found in the greenish blue shade seen here. These are all perforated 12.

Indigo Blue - perforated 12, no wmk

The indigo is also known in the perforated stamps. While these are more common than in the imperfoate issues, they are still scarce.

There is only 1 unused copy recorded in the indigo shade.


ONE FLORIN
Tiny lettering for the words ONE and FLORIN were added to the scrollwork below VICTORIA to thwart forgeries. One Florin equals Two Shillings


Tiny letters V & R appear in the scrollwork at bottom.

Dull Bluish Green on yellow - imperf, no wmk

The first Two Shilling stamp was issued September 1854, imperforate on unwatermarked pale yellow wove paper. Collectors must be wary of later perforated copies being cut down to appear imperforate - only copies with suitably large margins should be accepted.

Unused copies are rare, with only a handful of copies known.

Dull Bluish Green on yellow - rouletted, no wmk

All of the rouletted examples of this stamp were rouletted at the GPO in the latter months of 1857. It is estimated that only about 3,000 may have been rouletted which is verified by their scarcity. Many are found with rouletted on 2 sides only, bit some are found wiht rouletting on four sides, as this example.

The right side of this example dramatically illustrates the characteristics of the teeth that held the stamps together after the roulette cuts were made.

Dull Bluish Green on yellow - perf 12, no wmk

In early 1859, all existing stamps were perforated on a new line perforation machine measuring less than 12. The imperforate stock of this stamp was perforated at that time. These lasted until 1864, when they were reprinted in blue.

Light Blue on green - perforated 12 or 13, wmk 2

There were 20 printings of this stamp issued between November 1864 and July 1880, in various shades, papers, and perforations.

I am currently trying to identify the 20 different printings, and will display them here as soon as I have confidence in my conclusions.


Lilac & Green - imperforate, no wmk

The TOO LATE stamp was issued Jan 1855 for the explicit purpose of paying late fees for letters processed after the normal closing hours. It is unwatermarked on wove paper, and was withdrawn in June 1857 before any official rouletting or perforations were done in the colony. Victoria was the first country in the world to issue a stamp exclusively for late fees, and one of the first to issue a bi-colored stamp. The portrait was printed form the same die as the Registered stamp using a different key plate.

Lilac and Green - Privately Rouletted, no wmk

The Too Late stamps were no longer in use when the first official rouletting was performed at the GPO during the autumn of 1857, however, several examples have been found which were privately rouletted prior to the official rouletting.


Die Characteristics of The REGISTERED Stamp
TWO die states are found. Die I has tiny letters V & R under the first and last letters of REGISTERED. These are often obscured by postmarks or hard to see in faded copies. The Letters are absent in Die II.

Rose Pink & Blue - Die I, imperforate, no wmk

The Registered stamp was issued in January 1855, being one of the first stamps issued in the world for the explicit purpose of paying registration fees. It was also one of the first bi-colored stamps, which is remarkable given that they were completely designed and manufactured in the colony.

The stamps were withdrawn in January 1858 after 240,000 had been issued.

Unused copies are very rare.

Rose-Pink & Blue - Die II, imperforate, no wmk

Die II type stamps are 3 to 4 times scarcer than Die I types, and generally seem to be a duller shade.

About a dozen unused Registered stamps are known, including both Die I and Die II types.

Rose Pink & Blue - rouletted 7-9, no wmk

The Registered stamp was one of the issues that was rouletted by the clerks at the GPO in the lattr months of 1857. Rouletting may appear on 2 sides or on 4 - I have found them in about equal proportions.

Probably fewer than 7,000 were rouletted, making these very scarce.

Only 2 unused copies are recorded.


Faked Variety - Added Roulettes

The rouletting wheels used by the clerks at the GPO ranged from 6.5 to 9.

The example shown is rouletted 5.5, so cannot be from the GPO. Most likely, it was a full margined imperforate copy which has been improved by the addition of faked roulettes along each margin.

BEWARE....

Faked Variety - Added Perforations

No Six Pence woodblocks were ever officially perforated. While a few privately perforated copies are known that appear to be contemporary (including one or two on covers), this example is most certainly a fake that was manufactured at a later date.

The spacing of the perforations is too regular, and the holes are too cleanly cut for the perforation machines that existed in the 1850s. This has been perforated at some later date...

BEWARE....


The Jeffrye Forgery

Perhaps the Jeffrye's forgery of this issue is most dangerous of all Victoria forgeries.

The forgery has less shading on the neck than the genuine, the background behind the portrait is solid color in the forgery while the background is a cross hatch of horizontal and vertical lines in the genuine, and the headband which stretches from the front of the head to the ear is in the shape of a boomerang in the forged example, when compared to the much straighter headband in the genuine issue.

Careful examination is needed....

The Jeffrye Forgery

This forgery is found both imperforate and perforated 12, similar to the genuine issue, and can be found with quite convincing faked postmarks, including barred ovals.

Another differentiating attribute is the outer circle surrounding the value - in the forgery it is thicker and deeper than the one found in the genuine issue.

Forgery by Unkown Source

A very credible impression, printed on a very thin deep bluish paper which is quite different from the genuine paper. This is not documented by Earee or Pope and no further information can be offered.

Forgery By Unknown European Forger

A resonable effort (but not nearly as deceiving as the Jeffrye) which can be found imperforate, pin-perforated, or perforated. Several bogus postmarks are seen, including a quarter circle, and a set of concentric circles..

The neck is thicker, the hair style is quite different, and there is a thick vertical stroke of blue under the L of SHILLING.

Forgery By Unknown Forger

A reasonable impression, but with imitation perforations which are actually printed dots on the paper! The paper is thick and the margins are too generous.

Forgery by an Unknown Forger

Previously unrecorded, this is quite a crude effort. This copy printed in black, but it may be a proof and the possibility exists that others exist in blue? Curiously the C in Victoria is reversed. Other features make it easy to separate from genuine copies.

The FALSCH Forgery

A number of issues were forged by an unknown European forger who overprinted the copies with the words FALSCH, or FAUX. Usually the overprint can be seen, but it may blend into the background or be obliterated to hide it from view. The image is quite convincing, but the eyes are much more tirangular, there is no stop after the word STAMP, and the top of the T in LATE slopes downward to the right.


The Stamps of Victoria, by G.Kellow, B&K Publishing, 1990.

A Subject Index of Victorian Philately, by G.Kellow, Royal Philatelic Society of Victoria, 1988

The Encyclopedia of British Empire Postage Stamps, Vol IV, by Robson Lowe Ltd., 1962

Stanley Gibbons Stamp Catalog, Part I, British Commonwealth, by Stanley Gibbons Ltd. (2002)

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